The 2015 PIC Coastal Classic got away to a flying start in a westerly breeze, which is NW and expected to slow the competitors in the middle of the race.
With a staggered start which saw the smallest boats in the fleet start at 0930hrs, the big boats and multihulls ripped through to the head of the fleet off Auckland’s East Coast Bays, in the course are used for the 2000 and 2003 America’s Cups.
Although organisers would not release a crew list, several top names were spotted aboard the race yachts, including Emirates Team NZ helmsman Peter Burling aboard the ORMA60 TeamVodafoneSailing, Volvo Ocean Race navigator, Will Oxley aboard Giacomo, Stuart Bannatyne also aboard the Volvo 70 Giacomo (ex Groupama) and several others.
The fleet made a quick exit from the Hauraki Gulf with TeamVodafoneSailing firmly in the lead on the 108nm course from Auckland to the Bay of Islands.
She is not expected to break her record of 5hrs and 13 minutes set in the 2014 race, as the winds have already shifted ahead, forcing the lead boats to tack and three hours after the start she was tacking up the coast at a speed of just over 10kts.
Race progress can be followed live on the Predictwind tracking system click here
For the first time in the race all boats are required to carry trackers running a mobile phone app from Predictwind, which shows positions updated every five minutes, along witth course and their display relative to the rest of the fleet.